Thursday, October 23, 2008

Performance

Before I arrived at seminary, I came from a very performance-driven life. Deadlines to meet, worship services to churn out (forgive the crudeness of the term), songs to learn and teach, bible studies to work on, bible studies to lead, projects to finish...

I have no clue where this performance-driven life came from. I'm sure I cultivated it myself in some small way, just as I am sure that others contributed to it as well. As a child, there was a a lot built up in performance for 4-H projects. I caught the bug the first time I received the big, fancy dark purple ribbon. (Light purple was reserve champion... but dark purple was champion.) I got a taste of success around age 8 or 9, and the rest of my 4-H career was delighting purple ribbons, big silver trophies and how many times I could get my picture in the paper because of said ribbons and trophies.

My mom and dad both made sure that projects were done completely, heartily and to the best of my ability. If it wasn't done right, they made me do it over. And over. And over. So maybe this is where some of it comes from? I have no desire to blame this on my parents, but I'm sure all that didn't help in overall scheme of things.

A big part of this, I'm almost positive, stems from my work at the church. For 8 years they paid me to be in charge of the worship services. The pastor's goal was to change the style from traditional to contemporary. As I researched the heck out of it, I knew I had to go slow. But in that eight years, I can count the number of times I didn't plan the service myself on one hand. I never had a break; I just kept going. If I was going to be gone for the weekend, I still planned the service and made sure everyone knew what to do. So I would be kidding myself if I didn't consider that performance-driven.

There are so many situations like that in my past... whether it was making the dean's list, state choir, best actress at the conference one-act competition, making finals at the latest speech meet, never making a proofreading mistake... blah, blah, blah. It's all been about getting it all done and getting it all done right.

What does all this add up to?

We humans put an enormous amount of pressure on ourselves. Tangible results are something we choose to measure ourselves by. It puts us in line with everyone else, not so we are are all standing together but so we can see over the heads of others, comparing ourselves to the one next to us. What's ironic about this - is that God made sure the playing field was leveled. He made sure of that when he bent down and drew in the dirt.

There is part 2 to this post. But that is all you need to read for now. The rest of it will be too much for one entry.

6 comments:

Kansas Bob said...

About 4 years ago I took a class that addressed performance orientation (PO). I wrote about it at http://redemption.kansasbob.com/2006/03/performance-orientation.html. The class offered a few suggestions about how to deal with PO that I shared in the post.

I'll be interested in hearing more of your thoughts on the topic.

meredith said...

Dealing with Rejection & the Praise of Man by Bob Sorge totally helped me to come to some of these same conclusions. i don't the Nelson dna helped any in this struggle. :)

Bunk said...

I know that most males are prone to basing their life on how well they perform. I , as a male, am guilty of this. First time visitor here and I must say this is a very good post to start out on.

stephanie said...

KB - you took a class on this? How cool.

Yep, that ole' Nelson DNA doesn't help matters much.

Thanks for stopping by, bunk. Hope you come back!

Kansas Bob said...

Here is a descriptor of the session.. it is part of a prayer ministry class offered by Elijah House Ministries:

Performance Orientation

Performance orientation is a term that refers neither to the work we do nor the things we accomplish, but to the false motives, which propel us to do what we do. Once we bring performance orientation to death, we can find worth or value in who we are, not just in what we do. We may do exactly the same work in much the same way, but from entirely different reasons. In this lesson we explore the roots, identify the symptoms and examine the damage this problem causes.

ptg said...

I heard these same lessons in a different guise. I used to be attached to the fruits of my work. False motives were the glue.